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Editor’s Note: Kenneth Davis, a senior University of Houston-Downtown student and’s summer intern, is concluding several months of work covering the news you need to know this week. One of his final assignments–this article– was to give advice to the next class of interns that might pass through these halls, and a great many others across the country. Here is what he wrote:

In today’s economy many students who are pursuing higher education or have already completed their education find themselves competing in a saturated market place. There are more actively seeking employment than available jobs, and if there is a position, it may not be in the industry that many received their degrees in.

An internship has always been touted as a great way to get a leg up on competition and learn valuable real world skills and make wonderful professional connections to help graduates in the workplace. While many students each year graduate high school and immediately go into college and get their four-year degree, there is also many like myself who currently work and decide to go back to school to either finish or obtain a degree.

I was 26 when I decided to go back to school and finish my degree in communication in 2010. I enrolled part-time at University of Houston Downtown while working full time at AT&T. I always wanted to finish what I started and decided to do so. When I started back, I was classified as a sophomore and was eager to get back in school mode. UHD advisors and professors spoke always about completing an internship during your time in college.

Fast forward three years and it is now 2013 and I am a graduating senior in December completing a digital media internship with Radio One. I had always wanted this internship and here it was, on my off days from work, I would get a behind the scenes look at the largest urban radio station in the country. I had to balance between work, school, and life if I was going to make it work.

I’ve compiled five tips for those who may be in my same situation:

1. Get plenty of sleep.

There is nothing like going into your regular job or internship looking and feeling exhausted. People will notice and they will say something especially your boss.

2. Make calendar reminders for everything. 

Staying organized and on time for all events will save you the trouble of missed assignments and deadlines. It is no feeling like forgetting to pay a bill or turning in a paper. If you have time to do something then just do it then and don’t procrastinate.

3. Stay Focused

While you may want to go out and drink with the rest of your friends on the weekends, the truth of the matter is that sometimes it is just better to not and get any work done that needs to be completed no matter how monotonous or long it will take you. I put off assignments and found myself sitting in front of a computer screen rushing to get it done. (Typical)

4. Work Just as Hard on Your Unpaid Internship as You Do at Your Regular Job.

Your colleagues will notice your work habits and it will determine your reputation amongst your peers and may even rub off. I never missed one day at my internship, except for jury duty. (SMH)

5. Talk to Everybody.

Networking is obviously a huge key to success and don’t be afraid to talk to those in charge who may can help you in your career. On my fifth day at my internship, I was in the programming director’s office telling her my dream of always wanting to be an on-air radio personality. I was/am hungry and I would tell anybody that listens. A previous intern who is now an employee told me this my first day and has proven to be great advice.

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